Wondering What Happened To…For August 25

Roxette1990

On occasion, I have thoughts that pass through my head that, while fully formed, aren’t exactly long enough to air out on their own. With this in mind, this recurring segment will catch all of those things in a neat little basket and deposit them with you, the reader. Hopefully you’ll enjoy these as much as the other writings you’ll find here.

With that, let’s get started:

Wondering what happened to the band Roxette while pondering…

Did Jon Stewart Leave The Daily Show For This? – If you missed it over the weekend, former The Daily Show host Jon Stewart was seen on television again. You had to buy the program to see him, however, as he was the host for World Wrestling Entertainment’s SummerSlam pay-per-view on Sunday. But, after seeing him on this program, I have to hope he has better plans for his post-Daily Show activities in the future than this.

During the “title versus title” match between wrestlers Seth Rollins and John Cena (and we won’t even get into who held what title, the story, etc., because it doesn’t matter), Stewart entered the ring with a chair as the “combatants” were both momentarily stunned, debating who to crown with the chair and allow the other person to win. After a couple minutes, Stewart – despite having nailed Rollins in the balls in a previous WWE broadcasts (remember, this is professional wrestling, where a kick in the groin is a strategic move) – chose to use the chair on Cena and allow Rollins to win the match.

After 16 years in the anchor’s chair at The Daily Show, Stewart more than deserved his glorious sendoff from the show. But if this is what Jon Stewart is planning to do for the remainder of his career (doubtful, but go with me here), then he better hit the gym because 50 year old bodies don’t hold up well under the wrestling grind…just ask The Undertaker.

Furthermore…

Did ESPN Report on a Professional Wrestling Pay Per-View? – While sitting around after the late local news on Sunday night, I turned over to ESPN to see what happened in the world of sports for the day. After a bit, the anchors discussed the events of the WWE pay-per-view as if they were a REAL sporting event, complete with having a reporter on the scene (a former WWE employee, it must be noted) to give a post-fight analysis.

I know that sometimes it’s difficult to come up with news and it has to be especially difficult to come up with sports news during the “dog days” of summer. But if you’re reporting on the results of a scripted event, then you really don’t know your fan base that well.

Is Anyone Surprised About Josh Duggar? – The Ashley Madison hack – where up to 32 million names and batches of personal information were stolen by a hacking group and subsequently dispatched over the internet – had some surprises to it. First, who knew that government employees were so kinky? Secondly, is anyone surprised that Josh Duggar’s name was on the list?

Duggar, the son in the bizarre (now canceled) television reality program 19 Kids and Counting that featured the Duggar family (Josh’s parents and siblings) with their breed-like-rabbits philosophy and holier-than-thou attitude, held a nice job “upholding” those family values with the Family Resource Council. That was a nice job until it came out he was diddling his sisters in their sleep at the age of 15 and his parents decided that all the little Duggar needed was some time down on the farm and didn’t report the situation to authorities. He resigned that job with the FRC, but the best was yet to come.

Amid the clamor of the Ashley Madison data dump (for you who do not know, Ashley Madison was a website where people could go to arrange for extra-marital hookups, or affairs as they are commonly known) the name of Josh Duggar came up. So not only was he a child sexual predator, as an adult he wanted to have relations with someone other than his wife and, considering what type of website it was, we’ve got to assume a pretty frisky sex session. If you look up the word “hypocrite” in Webster’s Dictionary, there is now a picture of Josh Duggar.

When your name becomes associated with something less than appealing (just look up “duggaring” and you’ll see what I mean), perhaps it’s time for you to shut up on the subject you’re railing against. Just ask Rick Santorum about that fact.

Want A Term for “Anchor Baby?” – Over the past few days, GOP Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush has been making his comments on illegal immigration and using the term “anchor babies,” much to the delight of the media. When they challenge him on using such a term (let’s be honest, not in the best taste), he angrily spins around and challenges the reporter, “You have a better term I should use?”

Yes, Governor, there is…it’s called a child. Whether you agree with the way it is portrayed by the GOP or not (the evidence suggests that the number of births of this nature in 2008 was 340,000, or approximately .1% of the U. S. population, and steady each year to 2015 instead of the millions the Republican Party would suggest every year), what an illegal person in the United States has done is given birth to a child that didn’t ask for this situation to be thrust upon them. For all the care that the Republicans have with a child before it is born, you would think that they would have some concerns about it afterwards.

Now, to answer the question…what happened to Roxette?

In the late 1980s, one of pop music’s catchier bands was the Swedish group Roxette. The twosome who made up the group, Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, were hailed as the second coming of ABBA while they delivered such memorable pop bubblegum as “The Look,” “Joyride,” “Dangerous” and “It Must Have Been Love.” In the United States, the band was popular but was difficult to put into the nice little cubbyholes that radio likes for its artists.

After the release of 1991’s Joyride, things went downhill for the band. Caught by the tidal waves that were the grunge phenomenon and rap music, Fredriksson and Gessle took a break in the mid-1990s that turned out to be longer than they wanted. After recording two records in 1999 and 2001, Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2002 that saw Roxette shut down operations again. They would remain inactive until 2009, when Fredriksson had recovered enough to take the stage once again beside Gessle.

Roxette celebrated the 25th Anniversary of “The Look” (perhaps the song they are best known for), with a remix of the song with Swedish producers Addeboy vs Cliff in 2014 and a new album expected from the group by the end of this year. Gessle, now 56, and Fredriksson, now 52, continue to perform live in Europe, but currently there are no plans for the duo to return to the United States to attempt to recapture the magic.

Roxette2015

Fantasy Sports…It’s Skill! It’s All Skill!

220px-Pirate_Flag_of_Rack_Rackham_svg

The upcoming National Football League season is nearly upon us and we all know what that means. No, it doesn’t mean 16 (or more, counting the playoffs) weekends of watching grown men pound each other into a stupor over an inflated pig’s external organ, trying to push through the armada defending a goal to score the ultimate victory. It means that we get to choose up players and try to prove to our friends and loved ones that we know more than even the best NFL general manager through the machination known as Fantasy Football.

Sure, there are other sports that have their fantasy seasons. The origination of “fantasy” sports can be traced back to the end of World War II, but many believe the true version of fantasy sports began with what was called Rotisserie baseball in the mid-1970s. Owners, playing through the entire season, would choose a roster of players from the actual Major League Baseball teams. The owners would then earn points on how their players performed and, at the end of the year, the champion would be crowned through who earned the most points. The idea of fantasy baseball took off in the early 1980s with players starting to pick up on the intricacies of the game and media outlets offering in-depth box scores on the games that were played (can you even imagine sitting down with a prehistoric computer – or, worse yet, a pen and paper – to compute the fantasy scoring for a league?).

If there was a major professional sport that thrived under the advent of Fantasy, however, it was professional football. With teams playing once per week, Fantasy players could choose up teams and compete against each other on a weekly basis rather than just the season as a whole. Although baseball might have borne the fantasy game, it was football that truly lit the spark.

In 2014, Vox.com estimates that the yearly revenues generated from fantasy sports was $1.4 billion in the United States and that is probably on the conservative end. Pro football heavily dominated the breakdown, generating over 36% of the action, while baseball took up the second place slot with almost 19% (surprisingly, auto racing was the third-most “fantasized” sport, according to Vox). The companies that were benefitting the most from the activity were such industry powerhouses as Yahoo!, ESPN and CBS, who operated their own fantasy leagues for both fun (re:  no cost) and for profit (entry fees paid back to players), not to mention the individual professional sports leagues operating their own Fantasy games.

2014 was also about the time that the phenomenon known as Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) came about full bore. With DFS, baseball now had its little niche in the fantasy world that had pretty much been taken over by professional football and other sports could pick up on some of the glory that the NFL got from its one game a week schedule. While DFS has been an activity that many have gotten into as an extension of yearly fantasy sports, it has also drawn the attention from law enforcement and the politicos.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 was written to shut down the financing of online gambling transactions (think of online casinos, bingo and online poker), but there were several segments of the gaming industry that were excluded from the law. Horse racing (as a carrot to the horse racing industry in the United States), lotteries and fantasy gaming, then in its infancy online. With that carve out from the UIGEA, the DFS sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings are quite pleased to let everyone know that it is “legal” to play. Lawmakers will be rethinking this strategy but, with so many of the professional sports leagues and mainstream media involved in the game, it is highly likely they won’t touch it.

The reasons for fantasy sports – and horse racing along with it – receiving the legislative exemption is because many consider both activities to have a “skill” element that raises it above the bar of luck-based gambling (such as casino games that include poker). This skill element allows for a player, through knowledgeable study and examination of the variables of the game, to pick a better team (or a better horse) than someone who simply walks in off the street and tries to play the game. Which makes the results from my Fantasy Football draft on Sunday a good testing ground.

In previous years (and we’re talking for about a decade here), I pored over Fantasy Football magazines, ESPN.com, NFL.com and several other outlets looking for that edge in the fantasy game that would drive me to a championship. Alas, over the years I have only captured one championship, which pushes me to compete even harder and drink even harder when I’m sweating Marshawn Lynch having to make up a 25 point deficit on Monday Night Football. Those years I didn’t win, I would think that I had the “greatest team ever assembled” until they came crashing down in a heap at the bottom of the standings.

This year, I’d gone through the preparations but I’ve gotten a bit wiser about the proceedings. While I can research the players and teams from here until the Super Bowl, I am not Peyton Manning; I cannot have an effect on the outcome of the games because I am not out on the field performing the activity. Nowadays, I head into my fantasy draft looking to have fun and, if possible, win some extra cash, but not to put myself through Hell in doing so. Then the following happened, which is where the experiment will begin.

On Sunday, I was settling in to get ready for my Fantasy draft when my lovely wife said she needed to get some more clothes for her position as a professor at a major university. The best mall is a 45-mile drive from our home, hence we and our son hopped in the car and headed over to let her shop. After three-plus hours of shopping (and our son’s multiple rides on a carousel in the mall and ice cream bribery) and a dented credit card, we returned home with several outfits for her and me wondering how my Fantasy draft had gone.

With the fifth pick in the first round, I was able to pick up Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles through the auto-draft procedures (when someone isn’t physically able to make the picks, sites will pick the best available player for the absent owner) and it only got better from there. In Round 2, it was Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A. J. Green; Round 3 was a little weak in Chicago Bears wide out Alshon Jeffrey, but the next two rounds were golden.

Round 4 was nice in that it gave me a versatile but injury-prone running back in Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers, but it was Round 5 where I made my biggest steal. With a four-game suspension hanging over his head, everyone in our league had passed on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and my computerized picker was able to snap him up without hesitation. Even if Brady is out for those first four games (and after getting a solid backup in the Chicago Bears’ Jay Cutler), he’s worth having for that “Fuck You” mentality he’s going to have for the remainder of the season (and whenever he starts playing, he’ll have that “Fuck You” mentality after all he has been through).

Overall, the automated draft picked out a team (my team isn’t creatively named, the “Southern WarLordz” but it’s a visual image that is threatening) that looks to be pretty solid and, with Brady, potentially one with a sneaky chance of winning the title. If it is the case that I should win this year’s championship, then the bullshit of fantasy sports being a “skill” activity would be shot down as anyone who lets the auto-drafter pick for them isn’t using any skill at all in their attempt at winning. I guess we will see how it plays out over the season…in the fantasy world, at least.